“Custodial Death” is a Very Mild Description for What Tuticorin Police Did to Jayaraj and Fenix

Social Commentary

“Custodial Death” is a Very Mild Description for What Tuticorin Police Did to Jayaraj and Fenix

Illustration: Arati Gujar

The deaths of two men in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin while in judicial custody has led to shock and outrage in the district and on social media over the last two days.

Hundreds gathered in Tuticorin on Friday to protest the deaths of the father and son who were arrested last Friday for allegedly keeping their shop open past curfew, and according to recent reports, were tortured by police officers while in custody.

A day after their deaths, the family of the shopkeeper and his son — identified by some reports as Jayaraj and Fenix — alleged that there were several telltale signs of tortute on the two bodies, and have demanded that the officers involved be charged with murder. Several shops stayed shut in Tuticorin district in solidarity.

While the police say that the men had hurled abuses at them, and suffered internal injuries after they “rolled on the ground”, a Chennai publication has quoted eye-witnesses as saying the men were allegedly sodomised with lathis, apart from being brutally assaulted by two officers.

A DMK MP, who represents Tuticorin, has now written to the National Human Rights Commission over the custodial deaths…

While several social media users spoke out against the alleged police brutality with the hashtag “JusticeforJayarajandFenix”.

A few were quick to remind us of our outpouring support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and urged Indians to show equal support to these two men.

Taking note of these shocking events, the Madras High Court has now taken up the matter and has demanded the post-mortem reports be shared with the bench, as well as that the police file a report into the deaths by Friday.

The two police officers, whom the family accused of killing the shopkeeper and his son, have been transferred. But there have been several calls for stricter punishment.

With the pressure now mounting on authorities, hopefully the Tuticorin deaths will now be investigated in more detail, and we may soon see justice for Jayaraj and Fenix.

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